Review: Divide (PS4)

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: Divide
Format: PSN (4.18 GB)
Release Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Exploding Tuba
Developer: Exploding Tuba
Original MSRP: $24.99
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: TBD
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Divide was patched many times within the first two weeks of launch. During the first week, the game was broken. I could not interact with items, reload a saved game after dying, or go back to the main menu. Not being able to interact with a door meant I could not proceed past ten minutes in game.

The numerous patches have fixed these issues and will not be considered in the review score. That said there are still plenty of other issues that will be discussed later and taken into account with the score.

Gameplay:
Divide controls like a twin stick shooter right down to the fact that the player never uses any of the face buttons. This is true even in the menus, which is slightly annoying. At the title screen, it says press R2 to continue but until it was patched the player actually had to press L2 to proceed. I mean really, how do you mess that up?

Besides controlling like one, the game feels nothing like a twin stick shooter. The fire rate is very limited, severely limited after the first part of the game. The NPC companion will often kill two enemies before the player’s gun is charged to take a second shot.

The waiting between shots is exaggerated by the level design. There are many railings and numerous elevation changes. There is no indication whether your aim is lined up with an enemy or will hit a railing. Luckily, there are the five seconds between shots that allow the player to ponder if they actually missed or hit an obstruction.

This is more a stealth exploration game than a typical twin-stick shooter. However, that does not mean that when the player chooses to engage in the combat that it can’t be more fun and engaging. Why even bother with the frustrating combat when your companion will kill everything for you? Why bother with this control scheme?

… absolutely nothing is done with the AR lens …
There is also a Hash system. I would try to explain it if I had any idea what it was. It’s explained very briefly in game, but there’s nothing in the menus or any way to repeat how the system works. I reloaded my save to hear it explained again but that didn’t matter.

The basic idea is that the player has to collect Hashes and use them to hack systems. After hacking enough of the right systems, the player can activate certain other systems, and sometimes those systems are used to open a door or activate whatever is needed to further the story.

The result is that the player wanders around, often walking in circles, trying to scrape together enough Hashes. Then, after hacking, the player wanders around even more trying to find everything they are now able to activate.

The one thing Divide has going for it is the lore and story. You control David, a single father who learns his late wife’s job at a big corporate laboratory was much more than it seemed. To top it off, David is given a contact lens that is actually an AR display. Something happens and David wakes up not knowing what happened, where he is, or where his daughter is.

It’s not a unique premise but at least it’s interesting. However, absolutely nothing is done with the AR lens. After hacking dozens of computers and servers, you’d think there would be a map of the facility David could call up if needed.

There are no task lists to note current and completed objectives. Instead I spent hours blindly walking around trying to figure out where to go, trying to stumble across the next story trigger.

… voice acting is not good …
Early on, your companion suggests heading to the security area. Most people do not want a line on the floor guiding their way but the lens should be able to offer some help. Without being able to see what the current objective is, it’s really easy to forget what you were doing, especially after not being able to play for a couple of days.

I had to load an old save back to when the NPC told me where to go. Basically, all the AR lens does is allow the player to select locked doors and unlock them. So much wasted potential.

There is no real exploration either. With all of the wandering the player is supposed to do, the facility is mostly filled with dead ends. Audio logs are lazy storytelling, and people who do not find them are missing out on pieces of information that help complete the narrative of the world. The game needs some sort of carrot though to keep the player going, searching around every corner.

Visuals:
The voice acting is not good and is hurt by the fact that you can’t see facial expressions when people talk. Instead, you sees images of the person speaking pop up at the bottom of the screen. There is some variation in the images but not enough.

There are some gorgeous hand drawn backgrounds but most of the time you’re stuck in a grey facility. Showing parts of the ceiling adds to the artistic style but can impair your view at times.

… the game felt unplayable at times …
At first the game would occasionally freeze for a second or two and then continue. As the story continued, this started happening more and more. Then the framerate started dropping. There were times when the framerate was in the single digits for twenty seconds or more. It got to the point where the game felt unplayable at times.

Audio:
The orchestral music is well done. What atmosphere there is would not exist without the music. There are spots where the timing of the music is off with it either coming in too late or ending too early.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online component.

Conclusion:
Divide sets up an interesting story and fails to deliver at every step along the way. The exploration and wandering around the facility is boring. The control scheme and gameplay are just bad.

Normally, I will go through a lot for a good story. Latency and inconsistent framerate only add to the frustrations. The world and lore Divide creates are just not worth all the other problems.

Watching the trailer and reading the PS Blog posts written by the developers make the game seem like sci-fi fan’s dream. There’s just nothing here that makes the game recommendable to players.

Score:
4.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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